Under Georgia’s BUI or boating under the influence law, it is illegal to operate a watercraft in Georgia while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Georgia, there are five unique BUI charges that law enforcement and prosecutors can use to convict you of BUI. The separate charges are: (1) having an alcohol concentration of .10g or more within 3 hours of operating a boat; (2) being less safe to drive due to alcohol; (3) being less safe to drive due to drugs; (4) being less safe due to alcohol and drugs combined; and (5) being less safe due to marijuana or another controlled substance. The proof required by the prosecutor is different for each of the types of BUI charges and often times boaters are cited with more than one charge of BUI. In almost all cases where the operator of a boat takes the state breath or blood test and tests over the legal limit, (.10 for adults, .02 for minors) there will be two separate charges for BUI.
Additionally Georgia BUI law contains its own implied consent provision. This law states that everyone boating in Georgia has given consent to a test of their blood, breath, urine or other bodily substances to determine if they are under the influence. An officer that has placed you under arrest for BUI must read you these implied consent rights before asking you to submit to testing. While according to the implied consent notice, you must give a sample, Georgia law additionally allows you to refuse testing. You will be facing a longer period of suspension of your boating privileges if you refuse testing though.
If you were arrested for BUI, chances are the officer will have a blood or breath test for your case or they will claim that you refused testing. In either case, you have only 10 days to send the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) a letter appealing the suspension of your boating privileges. Otherwise, your privileges will remain suspended for up to one year. The suspension of your boating privileges goes into effect immediately after you are arrested and the paperwork is turned into DNR. You do not have the right to continue boating until the court date- is suspension is immediate and you can only fight to have your privileges reinstated sooner.
In Georgia BUI is a misdemeanor crime meaning that when you are arrested and booked into jail, your criminal record will be updated to show the arrest. Once your case goes to trial, you are typically facing anywhere from 3-5 conditions as part of your sentence if convicted. These conditions can include paying a fine to the court, obtaining drug and alcohol evaluations and treatment, attending a Georgia Risk Reduction Program (commonly called DUI School), spending up to 12 months on probation and consenting to random drug and alcohol testing for the time you are on probation. Additionally, your boating privileges will be suspended for a minimum of 30 days and up to one year on a first BUI charge. The suspension times increase for subsequent BUI cases.
If you have been charged with boating under the influence in Bartow, Forsyth, Hall or surrounding counties, call our office today to get started in preparing your defense. We defend a number of these cases and have insight into the procedures used in BUI cases. We are available 24/7 for an initial consultation and will schedule a no-cost face to face consultation as quickly as possible to discuss your whole defense.